Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST




"PGA Tour big bird didn't like this tweet"

Steve Elling reports that master Tweeter Stewart Cink heard from The Man Wednesday after Tweeting about AT&T's wretched (I can attest!) cell coverage.

That's when Commissioner Tim Finchem called to ask him to stop ragging on key PGA Tour sponsors on his Twitter site. AT&T is the title sponsor at events in Pebble Beach and Washington, D.C., and now stands as the lone sponsor of multiple events on the U.S. tour.

Cink was somewhat amused by it all. Later, when he got to the course, he was asked by another tour official to take down the posting, which he did. Eventually.

The offending Tweets:



"We think it brings a new sharpness to the Playoffs."

Say goodbye to strengthen and platform and say hello to sharpen.

The Commish unveiled a new word Wednesday at Liberty National and the world is a better place for it.

Here we go into the Playoffs. We are excited about the way the Playoffs are structured this year. We think it brings a new sharpness to the Playoffs.

After all, we strengthened last year and well, it wasn't really stronger so now we are sharpening. Next year we'll be activating a new points system...again.

I think overall thus far, as we get to our third set of Playoffs, we are very pleased with the traction the Cup has had in golf, the stature, recognition, positioning of competition takes years to accomplish, and I think this one has really been at warp speed to get to the position of where it is after only 2 1/2 years.

Warp speed down the drain?

And now on to Liberty National...wherever it is.

With that said, we are delighted to be back here in New York. I think the visuals this week for CBS and the GOLF CHANNEL will be outstanding. We have a good weather pattern moving in which is going to sharpen those visuals of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Sharpen those visuals. But will that sharpen the brand?

So what we decided to go forward with a few years ago is in fruition and we are excited to see it play out this week. With that said, I'll be happy to try to answer your questions.

Q. First, spending 20 years in Jersey, New York is over there; but anyways, coming back here, I know you're going to go to Ridgewood, but the logistics that the undertaking of having this event here and some of the players we spoke with yesterday were, they bit their tongue a little bit about the untraditional layout and the untraditional construction of the course. I wonder what your long term plans are and thoughts are for coming back to a site like this?

New York/New Jersey...picky liberal media elitists!

And on to the Olympics...

Q. If you were to get in, and I know that's a bit of a hypothetical, but it does look promising, if you were to get in, does that open doors for you with the PGA TOUR kind of getting access to the Olympic sponsors and possibly parlaying that into more sponsorship on the PGA TOUR?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think so. I mean, if you look at the configuration of the sponsorship of the Olympic Games, it's companies that we already talk to. I don't think there's much for us there, and No. 2 I think we are largely sponsored already. Even though we will have some turnover on this downturn, we are already working hard to fill those gaps. I don't see that.

But I do think that the texture of the game is richer to some extent with golf in the Olympics, which makes it even more attractive to sponsorship. So I think it will help us possibly globally with sponsorship, even though it may not be a direct interface with some sponsor that happens to be at the Olympic Games, so indirectly.

Got that?


Letter From Saugerties, Jimmy Cannon Edition

After a number of recent posts, Frank Hannigan files this Cannonesque "Nobody Asked Me, But..." Letter from Saugerties:

Dear Geoff,

There are no words to express my gratitude for your posting of The Crazy Swing of a man in Egypt.  I wonder what happens when he finds himself in a bunker?

Peter Thomson ran for the Australian equivalent of our Congress. His politics? Let's just say he was not a man of the left. He came here in 1985 to play on the senior tour for only one reason: to beat Arnold Palmer like a drum. He told me not to pay much attention to his scores since "we are playing from the ladies tees."

He is also memorable for his speaking the ultimate truth about instruction which is that neither he nor anyone else could teach a newcomer anything useful other than how to grip the club properly and to aim. Peter once covered a US Open at Oak Hill in Rochester for an Australian newspaper. I asked him what he thought of the course. "It's too good for them" was his response.

Slow play by the women in the Solheim Cup, with 4-ball rounds approaching 6 hours, could be cured immediately by the simple device of sub-letting the role of the committee to officials not employed by the LPGA or the European women's tour. I would put USGA alumnus Tom Meeks in charge and tell him that if any given round takes 4 hours 45 minutes to transpire that he would not be paid.

Corey Pavin's average driving distance on the Tour today is 260 yards, or 8 yards longer than he was in 1999. You figure it's the mustache?

Comparisons of some other short drivers: Jim Furyk 278 now, 268 then. Paul Goydos is up 12 yards in a decade to 276, Billy Mayfair has become a brute at 284 but was only 269 a decade earlier.

In the early 1990s I was a consultant (unpaid) for a golf course project at Liberty State Park - the site of this week's Tour event. It required the blessing of then New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, herself an enthusiastic golfer.

She wouldn't help us because the mayor of Jersey City said that golf was inherently elitist and that none of his city's precious land should be wasted on the rich. Never mind that the land in question was poisonously polluted. My idea was for a daily fee course supplemented by renting the course out once day a week for huge fees from Wall Street firms who would arrive by boat. What's happened is the creation of a $500,000 private club that is out of the reach of anybody who isn't loaded.

Liberty National is a design of the architectural pair of Tom Kite and Bob Cupp who survived the misfortune of designing a 2nd course at the Baltimore Country Club. It's adjacent to the wonderful Five Farms course created by AW Tillinghast. There were to be 36 holes as routed by Tillinghast. Because of the Great Depression the second course was put off for 50 years. The contrast between the two courses? Let's just say that the Kite-Cupp course concludes with a double green.

I twitched whenever I heard the name "Solheim" on television last week. Remember the great U groove wars of the 1980s when Ping sued both the USGA and the PGA Tour? There were endless meetings in attempt to resolve the matter without litigation. One took place in our USGA offices in New Jersey. Karsten sent one of his primary technicians. The man recorded the meeting secretly with a device hidden in his briefcase, hoping I or my colleague Frank Thomas would be caught saying something that might be useful to Ping in the suit to come.

Never mind how we found out. The tapes are stored in Mayer Brown, the USGA's Chicago law firm. Pity the
meeting did not take place in New York where such bugging is a crime. Anything goes in New Jersey.

Frank Hannigan
Saugerties, New York


“Well that’s wonderful, I beat everybody by two shots.”

Sean Martin reports on Tim Jackson's record-breaking play to become the oldest U.S. Amateur medalist at 50, despite a one-shot penalty for slow play.

The only thing that upset Jackson was a slow-play penalty that he received after the round. “I’m not real happy about it, let’s put it that way,” Jackson said. His group was warned at three of the four timing checkpoints (the fourth, ninth and 13th holes).

When it was confirmed that Jackson, who’d finished earlier in the day, was the medalist, he replied: “Well that’s wonderful, I beat everybody by two shots.”

How can you be a jerk about it when you are warned at three of four stations?


Teddy Forstman's Lucky Day: No More Pro-Am Rounds With Vijay

Doug Ferguson reports the sad news that the big Fijian has left Forstman's IMG to spend more time with his longtime advisor and a former IMG agent.


“I understand what you are saying.”

Adam Schupak says that the USGA's Dick Rugge visited Liberty National to take in the lovely architecture to let Phil Mickelson vent about the latest turn in the grooves saga.

For 45 minutes, Rugge and Mickelson stood in the middle of the putting green, nearly toe-to-toe, and engaged in a wide-ranging – at times, animated – but cordial discussion.

Rugge termed it a “pleasant conversation” but would not reveal specifics.

But much of it could be overheard easily. Mickelson, speaking with conviction, expressed his disappointment with the USGA’s recent ban of his prototype irons, his concern that the 64-degree wedge could be banned in the future and his view that this wasn’t good for golf on a global scale.


Rugge repeatedly answered Mickelson by saying, “I understand what you are saying.”

I suppose that was better than, "thanks you sir, may I have another."


Solheim Cup Ratings Almost Include An Integer!

Well, the good news is that more people saw that great event...

Solheim Cup Ratings on Golf Channel Top All-Time Highs

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 25, 2009) – GOLF CHANNEL concluded its exclusive coverage of The Solheim Cup on Sunday by garnering its highest rating ever (.93) for the final day of the LPGA’s biennial team event, tripling the Sunday rating from 2007 (.27) and far outpacing the Sunday rating in 2005 (.62), the last time the event was played on U.S. soil.

The rating for the six hours of coverage on the third and final day of the international event – which pitted the U.S.A. versus Europe – represented more than 956,000 total viewers, which was the highest for an LPGA telecast on GOLF CHANNEL this year and second only to the U.S. Women’s Open as the highest rating for women’s golf on television so far in 2009 – cable or broadcast.

Friday’s rating (.32) was the second-highest Friday rating on television for a LPGA Tour event this year, and coverage of Saturday’s matches – at 12 hours representing the longest continuous GOLF CHANNEL tournament telecast ever – achieved a rating of .60, topping same-day ratings from both 2005 and 2007.


"I don't know how it works. I looked at it for the first time the other day to see where I stood."

That's Lucas Glover describing the drama-deprived concept that is the FedEx Cup, which we will have to endure another year of starting Thursday. John Strege considers the state of the cup, talks to several players who have some interesting things to say and also points out the lousy timing of the "playoffs."

The FedEx Cup still has obstacles, obviously, widespread indifference among them, even as the networks dutifully update us on FedEx Cup points each week. FedEx Cup points. How does that work again? Another obstacle: the calculus on which the tour relies to produce a champion. Who can understand it without an MIT degree, or at least a slide rule? "It's just a little difficult to follow," Glover said.

Four bullet points are offered in the section on the FedEx Cup, beneath the heading, "2009 Changes," in the PGA Tour Guide. The last of them is this: "Streamlining the points structure for ease of understanding."

Really? Here's the first bullet point: "Shifting the points reset from the beginning of the Playoffs to after the BMW Championship, which means points earned during the PGA Tour Regular Season will be carried through the first three Playoff events."

"They need to make it easier for the fans to follow," Ben Curtis said. The players could use some help, too, he might have added.

I know we've warn this one out, and I still stand by the concept I floated in Golf World a couple of years ago.

The main positive, as noted by Doug Ferguson in a recent tweet, is Tiger Woods playing golf right now when he ordinarily would not be teeing up. And while that's signficant if you are a network looking for ratings, at some point FedEx is going to get fed-up with an association to a bean-counting, yawn-inducing, head-scratching and integrity-challenged farce of the "playoff" world during arguably the most exciting time of year in sports.


“It’s just moving the goal line just as someone is about to score a touchdown"

Probing around the vastly improved looking and functioning today, I finally tracked down the Phil Mickelson remarks about the USGA and grooves that have been reported in bits and pieces.

Seems it was a blog item buried on their old and quite dreadful blogging platform (hallelujah, it's gone!). Then Jeff Rude put it all in a column, where the most extensive quotes appeared.

The short version: Phil had new clubs to play at Firestone but they were considered too groovy by the USGA under its revised groove rule language.

The company offered this according to Rude:

“It’s just moving the goal line just as someone is about to score a touchdown,’’ company spokeswoman Michele Szynal said Thursday.

And after going to Commissioner Finchem and being met with a blank squint, Mickelson said.

“It seems like they (USGA) withhold the right to change the rules any time they want,” Mickelson said. “It’s very frustrating.”

It would seem that when you combine this with the item I posted last week from Mike Clayton and the other anecdotal stories beginning to roll in, it's possible to envision this rule change implementation becoming uncomfortably complicated at best, downright ugly at worst.


“I woke up that morning and didn’t expect to win"

Thanks to reader Tim for this Kyung Lah CNN report on Y.E. Yang which included what could not have been music to Presidents Cup captain Norman, assuming the translation was correct.

Watching Yang play with his friends on this Dallas, Texas golf course, you can see that love of the game is obvious. Yang later tells me that he hopes to never face off with Tiger again, because he’s not sure he’d win again. You get the sense that while wins at the PGA level are important, this game with friends is just as important — and at the heart of why Yang managed to accomplish what no other golfer in the world could.

The video version:

Jack Nicklaus has also has some interesting observations on the Yang win at Hazeltine in this sitdown with Tim Rosaforte. And is me or is Jack way too pleased that Tiger won't be breaking the all time major's mark at St. Andrews next year?


"Trending: Down."

USGA Executive Director David Fay sneaks in the final spot on The New Jersey Star-Ledger's list of the top 25 most powerful sports brokers in the Garden State. Thanks to reader Carl for this.

25. David Fay. USGA, based in Far Hills, controls the rules of golf, and Fay has used his office and influence to bring many of its events to New Jersey courses. But will we ever get the U.S. Open again? Trending: Down.

How can they be so cynical with Trump National Bedminster looming on the U.S. Open radar?


"Says he won’t take it off until we win another major."

The Armchair Golfer lands one of the more coveted exclusives again...Tiger's Left Knee on the PGA and how Stevie is dealing with the loss.


Where's Marty Hackel When You Need Him? Obama White Sox Edition **

Okay, the White Sox jacket at the All-Star game was one thing, and we saluted his barrier-breaking cargos, but white socks with dark slacks?

Golfweek posts a gallery of images from today's Presidential round of golf and let's just say that I think 44 needs Mr. Style in his life.



PGA Tour Releases iphone App

Just in time for us to follow the playoffs  Playoffs  PLAYOFFS!

Sponsored by Nike, it appears to be quite good if you want to follow scoring, access recent tournaments, create your own leaderboard of players and if you're on WiFi, to watch some nice video highlights.

If you were hoping for breaking news and opinion, this is not your app.


"But once I realized what I now believe, that the Bible is the standard of truth, I am totally willing to lay aside anything that stands in the way"

As U.S. Amateur play gets under way (scores here), Jimmie Tramel tells us about 24-year-old Louie Bishop, a Seventh-day Adventist who doesn't compete on Saturdays, a.k.a the sabbath. Meaning if he were to advance to the semis, he'd WD.

"I would love to make it that far, and it would be an easy choice for me," Bishop said.

"I would withdraw and be happy to share the reasons why. I wouldn't try to make a scene out of it ... but I would be happy to make it that far and whatever happens, happens."

What's the point of traveling halfway across the country for a no-win situation?

Bishop, who also qualified for the 2003 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont, said, "The pleasure is more in just being there and playing the golf course. And competing at that level is a good experience and a lot of fun."

Just like Ross Fisher threatening to leave the Open Championship as soon as his wife went into labor, it's also selfish.

The story explains how his college coach grappled with Bishop's devotion. However, that's different since it's a team event and a strategic choice made by the coach. If you are an individual entering a tournament and know you may not be able to complete the event for personal reasons, you should not be allowed to waste a spot.

The sabbath issue means Bishop — no matter how good he is, and he was record-breaking good as a college player at UC-Davis — will never be on the PGA Tour. That was tough for him to accept when he was a kid, because he said he didn't really understand his family's religious faith.

"I liked golf so much and I idolized the professional golfers so much that I really did want to play professional golf when I was older," he said. "At some point, the sabbath thing was kind of a controversy for me. I saw it as more of a restraint than I saw it as something that was true.

"But once I realized what I now believe, that the Bible is the standard of truth, I am totally willing to lay aside anything that stands in the way, so it's not a problem anymore."

Yes it is.


"The time to gee up crowds is between holes, not while a competitive situation exists."

Nancy Armour reports and Stina Sternberg files Birdies and Bogies following Sunday's exciting Solheim Cup finale, but alas, John Huggan brings up the inevitable European complaints about the U.S. team's behavior.

One other lowlight -- at least some of the time -- was the behavior of Christina Kim. The extrovert American clearly has a big heart and a kind heart given her obvious affinity and loud interaction with the spectators. But there is a line that must never be crossed with this sort of thing. And, at the risk of being portrayed as a bit of a fuddy-duddy, it must be pointed out that Kim, on occasion, veers into a place where opponents are -- however inadvertently -- treated with something less than proper respect. The time to gee up crowds is between holes, not while a competitive situation exists.

I agree she gets carried away, but she is awful funny to watch.


Moore Makes History: First To Notch PGA Tour Win In A Castro Cap

And check out the Al Capone shoes too...and the beard is definitely keeping the memory alive of the hat's namesake. Wait, he's still alive. He'll never die.

I of course, did not watch the Wyndham Championship won by Ryan Moore because I'm still under doctor's orders to not watch any telecast featuring Bobby Clampett, who is prone to say things such as, "this is such a frozen rope I'm collecting the icicles."

Okay, so he really did say that Sunday. Reader Rob shared that great moment in announcing history.

And say, it sure speaks volumes about the importance of the final regular season tournament prior to the all important playoffs PLAYOFFS when CBS sends Clampett?

Helen Ross tells us about runner-up Kevin Stadler, and more importantly, the news that Todd Hamilton, Jeff Maggert and Johnny Mathis are in the playoffs. Err....David Mathis.

Here are the updated standings for those of you eager to start crunching the possibilities.


New Rule...

Click to enlarge at your own risk...with apologies to Bill Maher--no course can host a major event or be eligible for a ranking if they have fake swans in their lakes.

Some of you may have noticed during Solheim Cup play that the lake swans at Rich Harvest Farms never moved.

Yes I know, they're more discreet than fountains, and I do appreciate a sense of humor sometimes, but if you have to put phony wildlife on your golf course to spruce things up, you are not a real golf course.


"I wish he'd smile more. He injures his image by being morose and petulant."

Mark Reason talks to Peter Thomson on his 80th birthday about a variety of topics, including the exciting news that he's designing several courses in China that ought to really help grow...someone's redesign business. And Thomson has some words for Tiger.

Tiger Woods has not been measuring up lately. Thomson said: "Woods is the major professional in his sport. No one else is so intense and leaves so little to chance. He'll win most of the events he plays in until he gets sick of it.

"He will probably win five Opens in his career before he stops, but he's up against an increasing number of young people who are matching him. He will find it harder and harder.

Five? Hmmm...I wonder if a certain somebody picked that number for a reason?

"I will add one other thing. I wish he'd smile more. He injures his image by being morose and petulant. There is also very little consideration for the fellow he is playing with. He could show more humility."

Oy vey. I'm as guilty of nostalgia as anyone, and it would be nice if Tiger spit less on camera, but as many of you noted, the petulance comes with the game. Always has, always will.

Back to Thomson, John Huggan salutes the man on his birthday and talks to friends and detractors about the Australian golfing great.

Given the strength of his opinions, Thomson has always been something of a lightning rod, provoking approval and opprobrium in equal measure.

"It is hard to sum Peter up as a person; he's Jekyll and Hyde really," says his fellow Melburnian, tour pro Stewart Ginn. "He's so enigmatic and I'm not sure anyone has ever captured him in print. He is a very articulate man. I love listening to him. He is such a rounded individual and has a great understanding of what golf is."

And this from Jack Newton:

Then again, not everyone is a Thomson fan. "I know Peter won five British Opens, but in four of them there were no Americans," points out former Open and Masters runner-up, Jack Newton. "Yeah, he had to beat Christy O'Connor, Dai Rees and Flory Van Donck, but I have a hard time rating how good he was from that. Peter was always in his comfort zone when he was the kingpin. But I didn't see him rushing over to America to take them on for a full season. He wasn't the king over there.

"Maybe I'm not being entirely fair. But Peter is not one of my favourite people, I must admit. When I was a young bloke I remember asking him for advice. It was all, 'just aim more left son' and stuff like that. I'm not sure he knew a lot about the golf swing. But he knew what worked for him.


Solheim Tied 8-8; Singles Preview

You can see all of the matches here, but I know which three matches I'm really interested in, starting with the two gruffsters in the opening match:

11:05 a.m. ET - Suzann Pettersen vs. Paula Creamer
11:25 a.m. ET - Helen Alfredsson vs. Michelle Wie
11:35 a.m. ET - Laura Davies vs. Brittany Lang